Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba

Stephen Tankel Book July 19, 2011 Columbia University Press
Lashkar-e-Taiba had developed from a small resistance group to the largest, most feared organization operating in Kashmir, India, and Pakistan today, posing a threat to the region and the West.

On November 21, 2008, ten men boarded a boat in Karachi and hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, killing four of the vessel’s crewmen and forcing its captain to sail toward India. Four miles off the coast of Mumbai, these men abandoned the trawler for inflatable speedboats, and within hours they began hitting multiple targets in Mumbai in a series of simultaneous and well-coordinated attacks. Over the course of three days, more than 170 people were killed and more than 300 injured. The victims included members of the Indian elite as well as Jews and Westerners.

The Mumbai attacks placed Lashkar-e-Taiba high on the list of the world's most fearsome terrorist groups. A complex and powerful organization that rose to prominence with Pakistani state support, Lashkar has sent scores of fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan and provides them with essential strategic and tactical help. Lashkar was formed by men with years of training in the trenches of Kashmir, and its skill in executing efficient and effective insurgencies has made the organization extremely attractive to dissidents. Nevertheless, Lashkar is afraid to associate too closely with al-Qaeda, which is closely tied to Pakistan's government, and al-Qaeda is afraid to ally itself too intimately with Lashkar, which would jeopardize its partnership with the Pakistani state.

Were the Mumbai attacks evidence of Lashkar's increasing infiltration of al-Qaeda’s domain, or were they simply the latest in a series of attacks on Pakistan’s historic rival? Stephen Tankel traces the development of Lashkar from a small resistance group to the largest, most feared organization operating in Kashmir, India, and Pakistan today. He considers the threat Lashkar now poses to Pakistan, India, and the West, and how this danger may evolve in coming decades.

Reviews for this publication

Storming the World Stage is an impressive piece of detective work that provides the most comprehensive treatment so far of the ideological sources, political motivations and organizational strategies of this group. If policy makers, in India and around the world, want to understand the foe they're up against, this book is an important read.

 — Sumit Ganguly, The Wall Street Journal

This is the first work of social science research on Lashkar-e-Taiba, revealing its diverse activities from jihad to social welfare, and its closeness to Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). A vivid and detailed account of a major Islamist actor.

— Christophe Jaffrelot, Critique Internationale

Storming the World Stage is the definitive account of one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world. Stephen Tankel's research in Pakistan is prodigious and his analytical judgements are well-calibrated. Highly recommended. 

 — Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda


End of document

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believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

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charter schools in the United States

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thousand tons of chemical weapons

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of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


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of Europeans and Turks

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of undiscovered oil

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U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


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is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

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of the world's population

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of Syria’s population

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of the U.S. economy

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of Brazilian protesters

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million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


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political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

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of oil consumed in the United States

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of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

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of oil consumed in China

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billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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